How to choose the engine oil filters and how do they work?
When it comes to engine oil management, the role and significance of an oil filter are often understated and overlooked. Some vehicle owners tend to change the oil regularly as per recommended oil intervals but neglect the cleaning and replacement of the oil filter; others believe that a good quality oil will balance out the shortcoming of a low-quality oil filter.
Both of the above assumptions are false. A dirty or low-quality filter can make high-quality oils redundant. Believing in such misinformation and myths and acting on them can be detrimental to your vehicle’s health. Therefore, understanding the importance of oil filters is vital.
So, what is an oil filter? An oil filter is a device that holds back the pieces of debris picked up by engine oil and prevents them from escaping back into the engine. In the absence of this filter, the debris made of dust, sludge and tiny metal pieces will remain in the oil and deteriorate it. Additionally, large pieces of metal can get lodged in parts of the engine and stop a piston from moving or a valve from closing.
Working of an oil filter
The oil filter is placed between the oil pump and the engine. The outside of the filter is made of a metal can. When the oil pump pumps the oil, the latter enters the filter through a perforated metal plate known as the tapping plate. The oil then moves through a pleated filter material made of synthetic fibre, paper or glass fibre. This is where the oil is filtered. The filtered oil exists through the centre port and reaches different parts of the engine.
Choosing the right oil filter
Two criteria influence oil filter’s performance and cost:
- Dirt-holding capacity – Every oil filter has a certain dirt holding capacity. This capacity is measured in grams. Larger the capacity of the filter, the more expensive it is. When it comes to choosing the filter, one must consider the type and usage of their vehicle. Large commercial vehicles that operate under severe conditions require large filter capacity to avoid frequent filter changes.
- Capture efficiency: The ability to capture the dirt defines the quality of the filter. High-quality filters have smaller pores and are very efficient at capturing dirt particles. Using a quality filter is as important as using superior quality oil. An efficient filter catches this debris and prevents its reentry. If the filter is of inferior quality, the debris will escape back into the engine.
The best way to determine which oil filter is best for the vehicle is by referring to the owner’s manual.
Need for timely replacement
Over a period of time, dirt and debris gets accumulated in the filter and fills its capacity. If not cleaned or replaced in time, the filter material inside it gets saturated with contaminants and blocks the oil flow. Moreover, like any other vehicle component, the oil filter, too, goes through wear and tear. Like an oil change interval, there is a filter change interval mentioned in the owner’s manual.
Inspecting the filter from time to time and keeping track of the change intervals ensures that oil stays clean. Additionally, opting for a high-quality filter along with the best engine oil ensures the vehicle’s optimum performance.